Cubans Resident in Europe Meet in Belgium

The 13th Meeting of Cubans Resident in Europe (ECRE) begins on Friday in Belgium with the attendance of participants from some 20 countries.

According to sources close to the event, on this occasion it will be attended by the Cuban National Assembly of People's Power representatives, Lizzete Martinez Luzardo and the troubadour Raul Torres, as well as the director of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ernesto Soberon.

The event, which will be extended until Sunday, is organized by the host association, Cubabel, and the participants will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the wars of independence, the 65th anniversary of the Assault on the Moncada Garrison, and will celebrate National Culture Day.

Belgium will host for the second time (the first time 10 years ago) the event, on the 40th anniversary of the historic 1978 dialogue, which initiated the process of rapprochement between the Cuban Revolutionary Government and its emigration.

The program will include debates on the impact on the Cuban community in Europe of the extraterritorial application of the blockade imposed by the United States against the island, as well as on the Constitutional Reform process currently underway in the Caribbean nation.

Cuba-European Union relations, migration issues, as well as the links between nation and emigration will also be addressed.

As part of the collateral program, meetings are planned with representatives of the Belgian movement of solidarity with Cuba, in order to agree on the implementation of actions aimed at defending and respecting the sovereignty of the country and to counteract the growing aggressiveness of Donald Trump's government policy.

  • Published in World

Bogota: Trump hurts Cuban pockets deeply

Donald Trump's Havana policy has another pretty negative aspect: multiple expenses imposed on those who must firstly travel to Colombia aimed at carrying out visa procedures to reach the United States.

El Nuevo Herald journalist Catalina Ruiz Parra narrated on Wednesday the odyssey suffered by those people to obtain it.

The main concern of those travelers lies in the high costs imposed on them.

For example, the consular authorities request their hotel booking in Bogota and their last six months bank statements with a minimum balance of $2,000.

In addition, they must pay their food and transportation expenses for a nearly 3-week stay, because it is mandatory to arrive 10 days before the interview.

The Herald journalist said that “the visa study” in the US embassy in Bogota costs $52 and if it is approved, there is another $82 charge.

In the face of the scene described, some hotels and private citizens offer those Cubans less expensive options.

Add to this that they must pay for travel insurance covering accident, disease and baggage loss, as well as lab tests, medical appointment, fingerprinting, interview and passport/visa collection.

It also includes the amount of $820 for one or two people and a 10-day stay.

Journalist Catalina Ruiz Parra warns in her article that “travelers must verify the information well before choosing any option to avoid being victim of a scam”.

Hence here another example of how those who have been advising Donald Trump's Cuba policy express their irrational and clumsy performance.

One of them, Marco Rubio, Florida's far-right Republican senator.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

 

  • Published in Specials

Buying happiness?

Someone has paid a million and a half dollars for a “recipe” of happiness written down by Einstein. But he bought a paper, not happiness. Reaching lies in walking.

                               —And what good does it do you to own the stars?
                                —It does me the good of making me rich.
                               —And what good does it do you to be rich?
            —It makes it possible for me to buy more stars, if any are ever  discovered.

                                                            The Little Prince.
                                                                            Saint Exúpery

It is not immortality, wealth or the conquest of other planets; human species is still fighting tooth and nail to grasp happiness.
It’s about an old crusade. For millennia, the inhabitants of this planet pursue that goal.

And barely a few days ago, in late October, certain resident in the German city of Hamburg, who wanted to conceal his identity, decided to buy at an auction house in Jerusalem a couple of notes where, allegedly, the secret of happiness was revealed. They were signed by Albert Einstein.

The anonymous buyer, who made his phone calls at the auction, afforded the astronomical figure of $1.5 million for one of those notes and $240,000 for the other.

The story of two papers

In late 1922, the man who is considered today among the fathers of Modern Physics was on a tour through Asia delivering academic lectures, when the news came to him by telegraph: he had won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

He could not travel to Stockholm to receive the coveted prize personally, but the news had already reached the Japanese capital and he was welcomed with great fanfare. It was so great that at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, where the 43-year-old scientist was staying, the most mixed feelings of pride, modesty and even confusion for his debut fame overwhelmed him.

It was then when a courier arrived at his room with some delivery. It hasn’t been clear whether the man did not want to accept the tip, according to the Japanese costumes of the time; whether, knowing such habits, Einstein did not offer it to him; or whether he wanted to give it to him but he did not have cash available.

The truth is that he chose to reward his service in a very original way and based on his newly gained popularity. With his quick handwriting and brief writing, he wrote some sentences on a pair of sheets and handed them to the man commenting: “If you are lucky, these notes will be more valuable than a regular tip.”   

The author of the Theory of Relativity did not figure out how valuable they would be 95 years later.

On a 13x21cm- sheet with the logo of the Japanese hotel, one could read: “A quiet and modest life brings more joy than the pursuit of success bound with constant restlessness.”

On the other paper, smaller, 14x18cm, also in German, he had written: “When there is a will, there is a way.”

Regarding both messages, which feature certain contradiction, Roni Grosz, the archivist in charge of Einstein’s largest collection in the world, at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, told the press that, although unfortunately it could never be known whether it was the physicist’s own musings on his fame, at least they provide clues of his ideas about happiness.

And happiness is so relative that the courier recipient of such notes did not benefit with them at all, but his nephew, who took them to auction, when the world celebrates 102 years of creation of the Theory of Relativity.

Study “Lottery Winners and Accident Victims: Is happiness relative?, by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Christopher Hsee, showed that those who won big prizes, in the long and medium run, were not happier than those who did not win them.
According to the research, the winners got accustomed to their new level of wealth, which a year later, they consider a daily thing and, therefore, undesirable. It is the phenomenon known as hedonic waterwheel, the psychological mechanism by means of which, once a desire is satisfied, another need takes its place and we remain as dissatisfied as before.

In fact, happiness is not money nor can it be bought with money. According to Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor at the Department of Psychology of the University of California, among today’s most authoritative voices in the so-called positive psychology and author of such volumes as The Science of Happiness and The Myths of Happiness, this can be conceived as “the experience of joy, contentment or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.”

Using the same phrase, the noted professor of the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Havana agreed, in general terms, with the expert during a debate on Cubans’ happiness, held last September at Felix Varela Cultural Center.

Calviño, also known for his TV program, stated that happiness cannot be analyzed from a unidirectional perspective, because it depends on experiences, human values, feelings. “It’s episodic, it is not rational in nature”, IPS reported.

He recalled that “the daily life of today’s Cubans is extremely rigorous”, but it is “interesting that in multiple religious and philosophical vocations, happiness lies in the exercise of overcoming the rigors of life.”

“Happiness is their pursuit. Reaching lies in walking. I think there is a primary gift in every human being: we were born to build happiness, to be happy, because the only way to succeed in life is to feel that life is worth living”, Calviño said.

Meanwhile, scholars are still providing their definition of happiness and showing roads to achieve it, as singers, poets and the neighbors who wait in line at the grocery stores make their contributions to the concept, the grandson of my friend becomes entranced watching a lizard that enjoys the sun.

The man, who paid $1.5 million for Einstein’s notes, is probably so tense and in a hurry taking accounts at auctions, that he has no time to discover the happy and pleasant lizard.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Questions and Answers on New Migratory Measures

Several questions have risen around the four measures to be passed next January 1st. Here are some answers to some of the most recurrent questions on the issue:

-What does it mean to eliminate the requirement of enabling the passport for Cuban residents abroad?

With this measure it’s eliminated the step which although a one-time and free procedure in the consular offices, it lengthened the process for obtaining the passport, and people spent money and time in trips and lodgings, among others. Since January 1st, 2018, Cubans residing abroad will only need a valid passport to enter or exit the Island.

-With the elimination of this procedure, does it change what was established on the renovation or extension of the passport?

No. Cubans residing abroad must renovate the passport every six years and over that period of time they must get a passport extension every two years, to make it still valid. After the six years established in the legislation a new one needs to be made. The extension requirement will remain intact after the elimination of the procedure.

-Who won't be able to travel to Cuba even though they are Cuban resident abroad?

  

As established in article 24.1 of Law 302 of year 2012, modifying Law 1312 of year 1976, Migration Law, it would be inadmissible everyone with records of terrorist activities, human or weapon traffic, drug traffic, money laundry; or tied with crimes against humanity, the human dignity, common health; guilty of organizing, encouraging, carrying out, or participate in hostile actions against the political, economic and social foundations of the Cuban State; when defense and national security matters deem it that way, among others. These requirements stay effective.

-Who is benefit with the authorization that Cuban residents abroad can enter and exit national territory in pleasure boats?

This measure is the continuation of abovementioned authorization so that residents in Cuba or abroad, regardless their migratory condition can travel on board cruisers or join as passengers and crews in merchant ships that dock in Cuba and was passed in April 2016. All Cubans living abroad are benefit and wish to come on a pleasure boat, yachts or similar crafts.

-Will Cubans residing here be able to travel to other countries or return to Cuba in pleasure boats (yachts or similar crafts) belonging to Cubans that live in other countries?

NOT for the time being. According to a reliable source some work is still in progress in that matter and other related migratory issues, but the restriction still applies for those residing in the Island to exit or enter in pleasure boats that dock in Hemingway Marine or Varadero Marine.

-Why eliminating the ban after eight years have passed for those who left Cuba illegally and keep it for those who did it through the illegally occupied territory by United States in Guantanamo Bay?

People who dared in illegal exits mostly via marine, jeopardized their lives, those of their family, broke Cuban laws as well as international, and risked the execution of international agreements, besides risking national security; however, once the U.S. eliminated the wet-feet dry-feet politics used with political purposes to illegal Cuban migrants, as well as the elimination of the “parole” program to encourage the desertion of Cuban doctors working in third countries, it has shown a considerable decrease in the illegal flow to the U.S., thus ratifying they were incentives for illegal migration. The measure benefits all those who left Cuba illegally since year 2010 until today who will be able to travel to Cuba starting next January 1st.

In the case of those who left illegally through the Guantanamo Naval Base, committed a serious violation of laws and put at risk the national security of Cuba, hence they are forbidden entrance to the country for good.

-Will people who abandoned Cuban official missions abroad be able to come with these measures?

No. The prohibition of returning to Cuba remains -for the time established, up to five years in some cases and eight years in others - for those who abandoned overseas official missions with the purpose of emigrating, we are talking about doctors, diplomats or sport delegations, or other sort.

-What does it imply by the “elimination of the domicile" requirement?

  

Children of Cubans who were born abroad will no longer have to complete the domicile requirement to become Cuban citizens. With the elimination of this demand, they won't have to reside for a while in Cuba so they can later decide on taking the documents that validate them as Cuban, but by common law for being the son of both parents, or one of them Cuban natural.

-Do stateless persons disappear, that is, people who could not take either nationality?

One of the main legal obstacles this measure eliminates is that there won’t be any more stateless person; that is, the children of Cubans, born in countries that don't grant the nationality for being born there. Some nations only grant citizenship by what is internationally known as blood right which is simply being descendent of citizens from that nation, and not for being natural from that country. With the current legislation, the children of Cubans living in those countries didn't have citizenship, neither Cuban, neither of the State.

Since January 1st, 2018, all those born from a Cuban mother or father will be able to process the nationality through Cuba’s consulate offices, without the need to travel to Cuba and reside for some time here.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

The New York Times: Applause for its Editorial

This Sunday that outstanding newspaper gave a hard punch to the blockade of North-Americans to travel to Cuba.  

It said that within the perspective of the current process of bilateral thaw the tourists arrival to Cuba grew a 36%.  

The article says the blockade must be lifted as part of the efforts aimed at normalizing the relationships between both countries.

Under the title "Lift the Cuban Travel Ban", it reminded that this affects their inhabitants who can do it to Syria, Iran or North Korea.

Making a compared assessment, the article highlighted the lack of meaning, as well as that it’s a mistake in an era of broadening engagement between the United States and Cuba.

The Times also mentioned an initiative presented to the Senate to stop the banning and work in harmony with President Obama’s posture.

The influential newspaper demonstrated how far they were allowed to get when formulating the following statement in its editorial.

"The freer flow of people, goods and ideas is far more likely to lead to meaningful reforms on the island."

Afterwards they admit: The trajectory is unmistakable. Public opinion polls show that a majority of Cubans on the island and Americans favor engagement.

Then the newspaper from New York sends a clear message impossible to hide, Congress should wait no longer to do its part.

And what is their part? It’s read on the title of the editorial without beating around the bush to lift the ban of traveling to Cuba.

It won't be like drinking Coca Cola, but the most significant thing is that The New York Times joins the side of realism, the very one that before claimed several times for a December 17th.

And it repeats now with the need of lifting the ban of travelling to Cuba of people – who from the North – consider themselves free.

Then, hallelujah for their editorial.  

Cuban Five Distinguished As Illustrious Guests in Caracas

The Cuban Five today received the Keys to the City of Caracas from Mayor Jorge Rodriguez, which qualifies them as illustrious guests.

At the official welcoming ceremony in the Plaza Simon Bolivar, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, together with their families, laid a wreath at the statue of the Liberator of America.

Rodriguez said Venezuela thus commends the work and struggle carried out by the Cuban Five even when they were away from their homeland.

"We gave you the Keys to Caracas so that you know the gates of Caracas and this Homeland will always be open to you", he said.

For his part, the head of government of the Capital District, Ernesto Villegas, said the courage and dignity of the Cuban Five in US prisons since 1998, and the resistance of the Cuban people against Washington's criminal blockade, are a clear example that when peoples fight for peace and independence, they deserve the victory.

The campaign for the release of Gerardo, Rene, Ramon, Fernando and Antonio and their unwavering conviction -he said- gave us fuel and inspiration for Venezuela's crusade against the meddling decree of President Barack Obama, who considered Venezuela a threat for the US national security.

These men were arrested in 1998 in the United States and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for preventing aggressions against Cuba and monitoring the actions of violent organizations based in Florida.

Hernandez, Labañino and Guerrero returned to Cuban soil on 17 December and their release was the result of an agreement reached between Cuba and the United States to restore diplomatic relations.

Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez were released in 2013 and 2014; respectively, after fully serving their unfair sentences, according to the opinion of many international organizations and personalities.

  • Published in Cuba
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